Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bad Ideas and the Summer From Heck...

First a little background info.

When I was diagnosed as having Celiac Disease there was a slight possibility that the atrophy in my intestines was from a recent bout of gastroenteritis and that I did not actually have Celiac Disease. The blood tests that indicate Celiac Disease were all negative for me. The blood test being positive means that you definitely have Celiac Disease, but a negative does not mean that you don't. Confusing, but my gastroenterologist (gut doctor) told me that the best idea would be to go on the diet and see if it helped me. He told me that if I ever doubted my diagnosis that I could just go off the diet for two weeks and see what happens. If nothing happens then I'm not a Celiac, if I feel crummy then I know that my diagnosis was correct.

Fast forward to this past August. I started thinking maybe I don't have Celiac Disease. I was feeling worn out and having stomache pains, and since I was on the Gluten-Free diet I thought that maybe there was something else causing all my trouble. So my hubby and I decided to do the two week trial. Just to see.

Usually, when I think I've been "glutened" I feel some... umm... "bowel distress". I compare it to food poisoning. It is pretty much in direct proportion to how much gluten I have ingested. The first time I might not even feel it. The second time, however, it is like salt on a wound. Much worse. Then I heal and I'm fine again. Normally there are no lingering effects.

I started back on the "regular" diet on a Monday. It was beautiful. I was able to eat things that I had been dreaming about, mostly fluffy rolls and turkey with actual gravy from a restaurant. It was nice, very nice. I went a whole week not feeling a thing. No tummy pain, no "distress", none of the bad stuff at all. I was actually starting to think that my diagnosis was wrong and that I was going to be able to lead a normal life again.

Then came week two.

The Sunday of my experiment came and I was feeling run down and achy, almost like I was getting the flu. By Sunday afternoon I was so sensitive, that the slightest touch felt like someone was pushing on a bruise. Speaking of bruises, I noticed a few more bruises than normal that I had no explanation for. (FYI I bruise easily anyway, so I mean that I had bruises on my arms and legs not from the normal bumping into furniture.) I stayed on the "regular" diet because I had a lot of treats that I'd bought and I wanted to finish them so as not to waste money.

I gave that up by Tuesday. I was miserable.

It was horrible. If I had been running a fever I would have sworn that I had the worst flu EVER. Nope. The Gluten Monster had returned, and with a vengeance. Not only was I in "distress", but I was hurting in ALL my joints, achy in every muscle. Plus I was in a really, really bad mood. My depression was bad, and my anxiety was horrible too. Lucky for me that Valerian Root really works.

I'd had a week of fun, and it took TWO MONTHS for me to recover. That's right, two whole months. I was useless. Here it is the end of October, and I am finally feeling normal again. I have a really understanding husband. (The preceding was a huge understatement!)

So between the Serotonin Withdrawals and the Celiac Monster, I was not much fun this summer. We were able to squeeze a nice visit to my family in Phoenix over the Fourth of July, between my self medical experimentation. I feel bad for my kids, there wasn't too much fun this summer, but they did get lots of fresh air and sunshine playing in our backyard!

Okay, I know this was a horribly long post, but I wanted to give some explanation for my disappearance these past few months.

As a post script: I figured out that I'm sensitive to high-fructose corn syrup, especially in soda. Avoiding it seems to take care of the other problems that I was having when I decided to do the "regular" diet experiment.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gaining Weight

I've gained 8 pounds since stopping the Effexor XR. I'm not sure that I am pleased. It is actually freaking me out a little. I have never gained so much weight so quickly. Well, except for when I was pregnant. That is definitely not the case now. It's just me eating. I haven't missed a meal. Which is good, don't get me wrong. I just didn't expect to gain so much so quickly.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Life moves on...

I apologize for the large break between posts. Things have been a little hectic around my house, for multiple reasons that I won't be going into yet.

The one thing I will blog about for awhile is my new found sense of well-being.

Due to various circumstances I decided to stop taking my Effexor XR depression and anxiety medicine and go a more herbal route. One thing I want to make very clear is that my husband has been keeping a VERY close eye on me. I didn't just go into this blindly. I knew I would have some pretty serious withdrawals, and he has had the time to take care of me. I DO NOT recommend doing what I did unless you have some incredible support behind you! I stopped taking the Effexor cold-turkey and started taking an herb called Valerian Root. I have had enough therapy and have dealt with my depression for long enough that I have found some pretty effective ways of dealing with it. It is my anxiety issues that just kind of sneak up on me. The Valerian Root is an excellent tool to help me with that. I've been off the meds for almost three weeks, and I am really feeling good.

Two weeks ago was a completely different story!

I did some research into Effexor XR and it's side effects and realized that the medicine could be the cause of most of my physical problems. From my lack of appetite to my sleeping problems, they were all listed as possible side effects. Those and quite a few more. None of my health care professionals ever told me that so many of my problems could be caused by the medication, and the little insert that came with my prescription said that the side effects were rare. I don't know why I didn't put it together sooner. Maybe it was because I started feeling so much better when I first started taking the Effexor that I didn't notice the side effects, or it could be that the effects got gradually worse as I was put on a stronger and stronger dose.

I stopped the Effexor and the next day I started the withdrawals. I knew it was going to happen, any time I missed a dose of my meds I would feel it within 24 hours. I had a really hard time, especially with motion sickness and nausea. Just turning my head would make me incredibly dizzy, and the slightest offensive odor would send me gagging to the bathroom. On top of that I had 'Brain Buzzes' every couple of minutes. A Brain Buzz was essentially my brain trying to reboot itself without the medicine.

I was in pretty bad shape for about two weeks. I was pretty messed up. I am still having a few problems, mostly with mood swings, but I am overall feeling much better. The first thing I noticed was my appetite returned. Within 36 hours of stopping the medicine I was VERY hungry. I ate more in the first three days after I stopped the meds than I had in the previous three weeks. That is not an exaggeration. I would have thought that when I went to my doctor and had lost so much weight that she would have maybe considered that the Effexor was interfering with my appetite. Unfortunately, I think that since I had a different doctor give me the initial prescription she didn't think of it.

Just eating regularly has made me feel human again. It is almost weird to feel hungry again, but it is wonderful to actually want to eat instead of choking down every meal.

The other thing that I have noticed now that the Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome is gone is that I am in a better mood more of the time. I think the Effexor kept me from the low depression, but it also seems to have kept me from the good moods too. I feel happier as a rule off the meds than I did on them. The depressed moods are much worse of course, but as I said earlier, I am pretty good at working through those. I was still getting depressed on the meds, and I was actually considering asking about being put on a higher dose or another medicine in addition to the Effexor. I decided instead to try a more 'natural' approach instead of more chemicals.

The medical community doesn't call it Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome anymore. Apparently 'withdrawals' only happen with addictive drugs. Although I think I was pretty addicted to the Effexor, the actual definition of addiction puts it a little differently. Splitting hairs if you ask me.

So, overall, I am feeling so much better. I am dealing with deeper bouts of depression than I was, but my mood has mostly improved. I am eating well again, and as a result I have tons more energy. With all that energy I am actually getting my housework done, and that is making everyone happier! I'm still bursting into tears at sappy commercials, and I have to work harder to control my temper. Oh yeah, and I've been having really weird and vivid dreams. But even that stuff has gotten better every day.

We are planning a trip to Phoenix to visit my family next week. It is going to be so nice to interact with them without the fuzz of the medication in the way!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I changed my mind...

Okay, all that stuff I said about the weather... Just forget it okay. It is GORGEOUS outside. Not to brag or anything, but days like today remind me why I live here! It is sunny and, oh maybe 68 degrees outside. I took the kids straight to the park after school. I couldn't stand have them inside doing homework when it is so beautiful outside.

After my hubby was finished working we went outside and put up our tent. It is a really nice two room tent made out of canvas. I'll try to post some pictures tomorrow. It is super nice. My dad is going to be so jealous when he sees it. It even has the opening for a wood stove in the front room. It is awesome.

I just wish it wasn't a school night so we could all sleep out there. I think Eric still might, he has the day off tomorrow. I offered to let him have Leela for the night, but he said no. I don't blame him, she is kind of a bed hog. It's an eight-man tent, but add one large, cuddly German Shepherd Dog and my poor husband would be crammed in one corner.

I think we might go camping over Memorial Weekend and break in our new tent. If we do I'll be sure to get some good pictures.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Struggle

Okay, I'm going to get serious for a little while. I usually try to keep my blog here up-beat, but I think it's important to talk about struggles. If I'm going through this then other people are too, and maybe they want to read about it.

I am underweight. I'm not anorexic or bulimic, but I do have depression and anxiety issues. I also have Celiac Disease, which doesn't help things. When I get depressed, I don't eat. I know, I know, most people eat when they're upset. Well, I'm the opposite. I get an anxious stomach, and start feeling nauseous. When my stomach is upset I don't want to eat anything. Well, I'd been dealing with the anxiety for so long, that (according to my Doctor) I shut off my hunger trigger. Now, I actually forget to eat. I feed my kids, but then I get busy doing other things and forget to sit down and eat. I am under orders from my doctor to feed myself when I feed the kids, and I am really trying to stick to that.

I don't own a scale, so I don't know exactly how much I weigh, but in February I went in to the Doctor for some shoulder pain and when they weighed me I was 118 lbs. Which would be great, except that I am almost 5'9" tall. That puts my BMI (Body Mass Index)at 17.4. A normal weight person has a BMI of 18.5-24.9.

If someone finds out I'm underweight they'll usually tell me to eat more junk food or to 'carbo load'. Well, that's where the Celiac Disease complicates things. Celiac Disease is an intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. That means I can't have most processed foods. There are lots of great products out there that are gluten-free, and more are coming out every day. These tend to be prohibitively expensive. And really hard to find. I can bake my own goodies, but one of the most serious symptoms of my depression is that I just don't have the energy to. This can be a vicious cycle, as being underweight makes me tired too. Food = Energy.

Being underweight causes me all kinds of other problems too. I get sick a lot. I usually catch every bug going around. It's not fun. There's that vicious cycle again. If I'm sick, I don't feel like eating anything. If I don't eat, I won't gain weight or have the nutrients I need. If I stay underweight, I get sick. On and on...

So there's my problem. Every day I fight. I won't give up, I'm too stubborn for that. Some days are better than others, but everyday is a fight. I plan to blog about this in the future, so consider yourself warned!

Photo credit: Tafkabecky at Flickr

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Kill the Gluten!

I just found a great new gluten-free blog: Kill.the.Gluten

The ladies who write this blog are terrifically funny, and I just love it.

Great news! Betty Crocker is going launch a new line of gluten-free mixes! YAY! The most promising is the brownie mix, the one thing I miss the most from my pre-Celiac days. I am so excited, I just can't wait to try it out!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Okay, so I didn't wear any green today, but I do like St. Patty's Day. I am of Irish decent on my mom's side. Not Potato Famine Irish, but Revolutionary War Irish. So the whole "Kiss me I'm Irish" thing really applies to me. St. Patrick's Day is the one day a year when everyone who isn't Irish wishes they were. So it's the one day a year when people want to be me! I love it! I don't drink (even if I wasn't Mormon, the Celiac Disease would keep me away from any malt beverages), and I don't like corned beef and cabbage. So it is a minor holiday, but I am proud of my heritage. It's kind of nice when so many other people appreciate it too.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Marry a Handy Guy

I am married to a Handy Guy.

What can I say, I know how to pick 'em. My hubby just happens to be one of those people who are good at taking things apart, fixing whatever was wrong with it, and then putting it all back together. For all you single ladies out there, I highly recommend marrying a Handy Guy. It's great on so many levels. He saves us money all the time. Just in car repairs he has saved us thousands in the last 10 years of marriage. It is comforting too. I know when I hear a weird noise coming from one of my machines or appliances that my hubby will solve the mystery. And I have to admit, I find it incredibly sexy when he's doing the manly fix-it stuff. (I know, I know: overshare)

I love you Eric, Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

25 Things

So the way this goes is if you get tagged you list 25 random things about yourself that people are not likely to know, then you tag 25 friends including the person who tagged you and they are supposed to make their own lists. Kind of like a chain letter, except no bad juju for not continuing the chain. This is my list:

1. I am not that into music. I don't have an ipod, and I don't plan to get one. I blame my apathy on the fact that in high school (formative music years) all my cars either had non-working radios, or radios that changed the channel when you turned the corner. It was just easier to have silence. I do enjoy music, I just don't have to have it playing all the time.

2. I love to cook, but I hate raw meat. Especially raw pork. I don't mind ground hamburger, but maybe that's because it doesn't look much like meat.

3. I have never gotten a ticket. I was pulled over once for speeding, but I was let off with a warning. That's it. Nothing else, not even a parking ticket.

4. I taught myself how to knit.

5. I love sleeping. I think napping should be made a social custom like siestas are in other countries.

6. I want to learn another language fluently.

7. I want to learn to play the piano, but I don't actually own a piano.

8. When I was 8 I wanted to be a nurse, untill I checked a book out from the library about surgery. That changed my mind pretty quick!

9. I wear a size 4 ring.

10. I could (and do) spend hours reading. I get so immersed in books that I can totally block out whatever is going on around me. My husband finds this both amusing and irritating.

11. I grew my hair out to my waist on a bet with my husband. Then I cut it off and donated it to Wigs For Kids.

12. I kill plants, but I love them. I cannot keep a house plant alive, no matter how hard I try. There is one plant in our house that is almost a year old, but my husband takes care of it by himself. I am not allowed to touch it.

13. I like artificial banana flavoring better than real bananas.

14. I love the smell of Almond Extract.

15. I love Old Hollywood. I mean really Old Hollywood. As in Silent Era or shortly after. My favorite actress is Norma Shearer, she retired in 1940.

16. My favorite gemstone is Opal. I also like pearls. I don't like diamonds that much, I think they're kind of boring.

17. I want to wear my hair in a 1920's finger wave. I would do it too, if I could afford to go to the salon to have it set every week.

18. I would wear a hat and gloves in public. If I had a hat and gloves, and the clothes that went along with it.

19. It kind of bothers me when my purse doesn't match my shoes.

20. I love shopping at Thrift Stores and Second Hand Shops, I feel like I'm on a treasure hunt.

21. I think horoscopes are fun, but I don't believe in them. I am a Libra and a Monkey, among other things.

22. I love living near the mountains, I actually get kind of anxious if I am too far away from them.

23. I love it when it is raining, but I hate it when it is overcast without raining.

24. I would rather have a too cold winter than a too hot summer.

25. I love sending and receiving real (snail) mail. I always try to write thank you cards, but they are usually very late.